How It All Started
(for me)
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WPE Certs
It was early 1954, and I was
8-years-old. As a proud, uniformed
Cub Scout, I was eager to take that
"Wolf" book home and see which
project awards I could earn.
I was immediately captivated by the
information that stated that I could
build my own working radio.

I needed a lot of help making this
project. Dad cut the pine board for the
base, and uncle gifted me the
Bakelite, magnetic headphone, and I
bought the galena crystal at a radio
shop in downtown Bridgeport,
Connecticut.

A wire out the bedroom window and a
water pipe ground secured me three
AM stations. There were nights I could
hear stations in New York City, but as
a rule I was pretty much bound to the
local broadcasters in Connecticut.
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Fast forward another year or so,
maybe mid 1955, and we assembled
the 1-tube radio from the "Bear" book.
This was an expensive proposition.
The batteries, tube and tube socket
cost me a lot of grass cutting money.
But, boy-oh-boy it was very worth it!
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Not much later, I became inseparable
from an Arvin "Rhythm Baby"
shortwave radio that my Dad had
given to me. It had belonged to his
mother, my grandmother, who traded
an old Chevy for it in the late 1930's. It
was the family radio for a while, but
now it was in my attic bedroom.

That old Arvin provided me with
countless hours of entertainment.
From the day I received that old 4-tube
receiver, I was hooked. Little did I, or
anyone, know how influential that
simple, old radio would be on the rest
of my life.

Upon receiving the old Arvin, I
immediately strung some wire from my
attic bedroom window out to two big,
old willow trees. I ran a ground down
the side of the house to an iron pipe
that I drove into the garden, and I was
in business. I even had a porcelain
knife switch mounted to the windowsill
to ground the antenna when not in use.
Believe it or not, knowing how to install
an "Ariel", a proper ground and basic
lightning protection was something
that was learned as a matter of course
-- just like banking a coal-fired furnace
at bed time and setting the damper
properly. These were normal things
that boys learned in those days.

One thing I remember as though it
were yesterday, back in 1954 when
the Arvin was still "family property"
down in the living room, was when
hurricane "Carol" came screaming up
the Eastern Coast of the US. I listened
to Hams in the Carolinas, Virginia, and
New Jersey as the storm approached
us. Those were the days of 80-meter
AM QSO's where anyone with a living
room radio could just switch from AM
broadcast to the shortwave band and
pass the time evesdropping on
Amateur Radio operators.

I gave Mom and Dad hurricane
updates as the information from out of
state Hams described how conditions
were changing. I probably was giving
them way too much info...way too
often, but it sure was exciting tracking
the storm as it approached.
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Then, of course, there was this one. If you grew up in the 1950's or '60's,
and were interested in radio, then you'll undoubtedly recognize these images
... but that's for another time.